God, Family, and the Green Bay Packers
stoke001 at maroon.tc.umn.edu
stoke001 at MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU
Fri Jan 10 11:45:18 PST 1997
Since my original post was not whistled out of bounds . . .
Rodney Smith and Emily Hartigan raise some interesting points about
religion, conscience and the Green Bay Packers:
1. Rod: An unemployment compensation claimant says he is unavailable
for work on Sundays because of his religious beliefs. (Must be
excused from a neutral, generally applicable law, *Frazee*, unimpaired
by *Smith* (Employment Division, not Rodney)) Claimant #2 says he is
unavailable for work on Sundays because of his Packers season
tickets. No Free Exercise or RFRA claim, presumably. But *Estate of
Thornton v. Caldor* says that to grant an accommodation to the Sunday
worshipper but not the Packers Fan violates the Establishment Clause.
Surely Frazee (& Sherbert & Thomas & Hobbie etc.etc.) and Caldor
cannot both be right. How do you resolve this? And on what principle
do you distinguish committed Packers fans -- I know some who have had
their season tickets passed on from one generation to the next, and
not missed a game in 20 years -- from other strongly-held secular
objections to Sunday work. ("That's my family day" etc.). Does the
"conscience" rationale work? I pose (variations of) this hypothetical
in Con Law and Law & Religion and it always provokes an interesting
discussion (leavened with humor and inter-state rivalry).
2. Emily, Emily. Can you really be a committed Packers fan and not
have attended a game while living 20 years in Wisconsin? The question
raises serious (and not so serious) questions of one's "sincerity" and
what should count / be required as sufficient evidence of sincerity.
Alas, I would not deny a sincere Sunday sabbatarian claimant
(protestant or Roman Catholic!) who sometimes slept in on Sunday
mornings, or who went camping and fishing during the summer, etc.
(This seemed to work against the late Mr. Thornton, however, who
sometimes had the temerity to visit relatives in New Jersey on his
sabbath.) Nor, do I begrudge you, Emily, for not going to a game.
There's always this problem of actually getting tickets. Green Bay
home games are sold out well into the 21st century, and the season
ticket waiting list is now approximately 35 years long. Even if you
could get tickets, declining them is not necessarily insincerity. My
brother (a Green Bay high school teacher) offered me tickets for last
week's game. (His pastor, as part of his compensation, has the
Church's two 40-yard-line season tickets, and gave Kent his option for
playoff tickets!) I turned them down, and missed the opportunity to
tailgate in 33 degree pouring, freezing rain. There were 3 no-shows
for the game. Now *that's* sincerity.
Michael Stokes Paulsen
University of Minnesota Law School
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